EPIC DRIVES • December 2023
Believe us when we say that your soon-to-be favourite hotel is more than worth the petrol. Here are the five new crash pads to know, all within road-trippable proximity of some of the most exciting destinations on the network right now
Where: Athens to Arcadia
In Greek mythology, Arcadia was the playground of mischievous gods and mountain nymphs. It’s just as enchanting in 2024, except now you can explore it from the comfort of your Toyota Aygo, instead. Plus, unlike the poor souls who once navigated Zeus and his temperamental crew, you’ll have only the weather gods to contend with. Arcadia doesn’t bake its visitors quite so relentlessly as Athens, and its moody hillsides are known to promote a much more pleasant climate. You’ll feel this shift as you journey west from the capital, passing the inky-blue Saronic Gulf and over the Corinth canal (if you’re brave, peer over the bridge into its dizzying depths). Things soon take a turn for the olive green and glorious as you approach Manna – a new Design Hotel opening and passion project of local founder, Stratis Batayas. The luxe sanctuary offers free valet parking, meaning you can drive out to the region’s rural highlights (including the haunting Kapsia Cave and Church of Agia Theodora) at your leisure.
Where: Toronto to Beaver Valley
While the rest of those on your flight take the UP train toward Toronto’s bright Downtown lights, you can fasten your seatbelt knowing your satnav is directing you somewhere altogether more peaceful. Ontario, the Canadian province known for its cottage-lined lakes and quaint valley towns, is the chosen home of April Brown and Sarah Sklash’s budding motel empire, The June Motel, a venture so popular that the duo’s second renovation even turned into a smash Netflix hit. Their first two properties (in Prince Edward County and on Lake Huron’s Sauble Beach, respectively) are being followed in 2024 with an eight-room opening in Beaver Valley – just two hours’ north of Toronto Pearson Airport. It’s also the take-off spot for the region’s famed Beaver Valley Fall Drive, which comes alive (with traffic as well as colour – although it’s not nearly as crowded as the US’s popular fall-foliage highways) as the leaves begin to turn.
Where: Muscat to Abu Dhabi
For a capital-to-capital road trip to remember, it’s off to Muscat and the desertscapes of Oman and the UAE, ending amid the glittering high rises of Abu Dhabi and the futuristic embrace of the region’s first ever Mondrian hotel. From mountain-backed Muscat, head inland toward the magnificent ninth-century Nakhal Fort and Jebel Shams, otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of Oman, before continuing on to border city Al Ain (Muscat to Al Ain clocks in at three-and-a-half hours without stops). Al Ain sits on the doorstep of the third most photographed road trip in the world, the undulating Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, which offers a rocky 1,240m climb to the UAE’s highest viewpoint. A final sprint west, and you’re over the finish line in Abu Dhabi, where the new 221-room Mondrian, complete with a cocktail-sipping lagoon, awaits.
Where: San Francisco to Inverness
Just north of San Francisco is a nautical bingo card of fog-lapped lighthouses, abandoned fishing boats and clapboard oyster shacks. Beyond the bays, you’ll wade into thick forest, where the sounds of seaside gulls can still be heard as A-frame cabins, just off the trailhead, flicker with firelight. If this sounds like your kind of weekend, it’s across the Golden Gate Bridge (yes, you’ll be driving over it) and a swift dart on to Route 1, which will take you along the Big Little Lies coast up to Point Reyes Station and Inverness – our chosen destination. This place doesn’t just have all your bingo card components, it has Mankas, a former 20th-century hunting lodge and celeb haunt. Mankas’ once famous restaurant welcomed the who’s who of culinary US talent (as well as star turns from Brad Pitt et al) and the place is – finally – reopening in early 2024 with help from AD100 interior designer Ken Fulk.
Where: Aberdeen to Edinburgh
You’ve flown into Aberdeen for a slice of amateur East Coast dramatics – and Scotland, ever the film set, is more than happy to provide. As you drive some 25 minutes south from the airport, your first stop is Stonehaven, where you’ll follow in many a royal footstep to Dunnottar Castle – one of the country’s most photogenic clifftop fortresses. It’s also here where you’ll want to ditch the A90 in favour of the A92, otherwise known as the winding Angus Coastal Route, taking you to the sandy dunes of Lunan Bay, to Michelin-approved dining at Collinsons in Broughty Ferry and eventually down to Dundee – the halfway mark. From here it’s an easy trip to Edinburgh via Kinnoull Hill, where you should stop for magnificent views over the River Tay. In the Scottish capital, the warm embrace of its most anticipated property will be there to greet you. 100 Princes Street (originally slated to open in 2023 – now looking more like early 2024) promises big members’ club energy, unspoilt castle views and whiskies galore. Cheers to that.
Do you have a favourite road trip you’d recommend for 2024? Email The Club magazine inbox at email@example.com to tell us all about it